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Woefully shorthanded Sixers mount furious comeback, but lose to Hawks in Hield’s debut

Buddy Hield and Cameron Payne made their Sixers debuts, but they were still down four starters and never stood a chance against the Hawks.

Atlanta Hawks v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Well, at least they showed some fight.

The Sixers fell 127-121 to the Atlanta Hawks Friday night as Philadelphia was down another starter.

Cam Payne and Buddy Hield made their debut starting for the Sixers tonight as Tyrese Maxey was out with an illness.

In their debuts, Payne had a season-high 20 points, shooting 7-of-16 from the field and 4-of-9 from behind the three-point arc. Hield had 20 points as well, shooting 8-of-21 from the field and 4-of-12 from deep.

Kelly Oubre Jr. led the Sixers with 28 points, going 8-of-19 from the floor and 10-of-14 from the free throw line. Trae Young led all scorers with 37 points while also dishing out 12 assists.

Here are some thoughts from the Center.

First Quarter

  • It was definitely a choppy start for the offense, but that is pretty expected given the circumstances. Hield got the crowd into it early by scoring his first five points as a Sixer in quick succession: knocking down a three then blowing by a closeout for a layup.
  • The new guys’ impact, especially Hield’s, was seen almost instantly. They put up 12 three-point attempts. Hield’s ability to keep two defenders focused on him are what Harris and Maxey have sorely been missing recently.
  • Things were equally messy on the defensive end of the floor, and they struggled to defend the paint especially. Onyeka Okongwo led all scorers with 10 points after the first, shooting 5-of-6 from the field, as the Hawks got out to an 11-point lead after one.

Second Quarter

  • Philly really struggled to contain Young to start the second, though using Hield as the point-of-attack defender might not have been the best idea. He scored or assisted 10 of Atlanta’s first 12 points of the second, and had 12 points in the quarter.
  • It wasn’t just Young though, as the Hawks were able to convert on the good looks they were getting while the Sixers couldn’t. Atlanta shot 5-of-7 from beyond the arc in the second quarter, while the Sixers made four three pointers all half.
  • Even Hield himself wasn’t sinking them, but his gravity did create plenty of open looks in the half. Young’s refusal to leave him in this first play here allows Payne to get a wide-open three. That type of attention should really bend defenses when and if this team ever gets healthy.
  • As things got worse for the Sixers, one of the few positives of the half quickly became the play of Paul Reed. He reached a double-double halfway through the second, going into the break with 10 points and 10 boards, five of those being offensive rebounds.
  • Despite that, Mo Bamba played the last five minutes and change of the half, and he struggled to keep up. The amount of rebounds that go over his head as he meanders towards the basket is jarring. The Sixers went into the break trailing by 17.

Third Quarter

  • Thanks to a hot stretch from Hield, the Sixers showed the faintest signs of life. They made three of their first four three-pointers, they just couldn’t come up with enough stops or rebounds to get the lead down to single digits.
  • The Hawks scored 40 points in the paint, and that number somehow still felt too low. It just seemed like they were able to walk into whatever shot they wanted all night. Per Cleaning the Glass, Atlanta shot 60% on shots at the rim and short mid-ranges through three quarters.
  • Philly actually shot 7-of-11 from three as a team in the third quarter, but still weren’t able to make any significant dent in the lead, that’s how poorly things were going on defense. The Hawks shot 56% from the field in the third to keep the lead right at 17.

Fourth Quarter

  • The Sixers’ defense finally woke up a bit as the final quarter got under way. They held the Hawks to one field goal over the first five minutes of the fourth. That allowed them to cut the lead to single digits for the first time since the first quarter.
  • After a rough first half, Payne really rebounded in the second. He shot 5-of-8 from the field after halftime. It’s impressive he’s able to get up his three-ball in traffic given how long and funky his release is.
  • They just did not have the personnel to either score enough baskets to keep pace with Young, nor did they have anyone on the floor capable of stopping him enough to complete the comeback. Still this was the most fight they’ve shown all week and it was refreshing to see a fourth quarter where the game was still in question. The Sixers cut the deficit down to four with 14.8 seconds left, but it was too little too late.
  • There is really no rest for the weary. These new-look Sixers are right back in action tomorrow, as they head down to Washington to take on the Wizards at 7 p.m. ET.

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